Discussing Conspiracy Theories: a CO.NX webchat with Todd Leventhal

CO.NX, a State Department’s online conferencing tool, hosted a conversation with Todd Leventhal, State’s “disinformation and conspiracy theory specialist”. Todd is also the author of America.gov’s Rumors, Myths and Fabrications.

There are some interesting questions in the transcript which, by the way, is available online at the US Embassy in London. Because of an interpretation of the Smith-Mundt Act that disallows information created by specific offices in the State Department for foreign audiences, Todd’s expertise and this transcript are intentionally not available from the State.gov website to make it easier for Americans to see this conversation

A suggestion: State should host CO.NX style conversations with Americans to go beyond dispelling the same rumors, myths, and fabrications, as well as better engage and inform the public. A model would be the Defense Department’s Blogger Roundtable combined with DipNote’s focus on people and actions that don’t get a lot of coverage.

There is precedent in State. Former Under Secretary James Glassman held a few roundtables (with the bloggerati of public diplomacy but everything starts small) and out of public affairs (which Sean McCormack was working on before he left – he was even looking to integrate bloggers into daily press briefings).

Back to Todd. Select bits of the conversation are after the fold, but it is worth reading the whole article to get a feel for what is going on. Thanks Todd for sending this.

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